Ergonomic Keyboard Recommondations

Ergonomic Keyboard Recommondations

Dominic

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Can anyone recommend an ergonomic keyboard? I'm working now on MacBook Air, but I have bought a rooster and would like to combine it with a ergonomic keyboard. I'm a bit afraid about the health of my hands.

 

Gummibeer

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I've noticed that the bigger problem is the mouse. Most times the mouse produces problems with your carpal tunnel.

 

VickiLanger

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I just finished doing some rather extensive research on this. What are your requirements?

I looked at some basic options from Logitech and Microsoft. I also looked at more extreme options like EgrodoxEZ and some ortholinear ones. I even looked at a simple crooked Bluetooth foldable one for easy travel. I ended up going with the Dygma Raise. They’re building them now and shipping shortly. So, I can’t speak to experience with it, but I can imagine it will be wonderful.

  • Learning curve
  • Portable
  • Size
  • Easy software
  • Customizable
  • Inexpensive compared to some
  • Allows my arms/wrists to be straight

  • A tweet about Dygma

 

VickiLanger

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I've noticed that the bigger problem is the mouse. Most times the mouse produces problems with your carpal tunnel.
As far as mice go, any mouse that turns you thumb upward is a great way to not crush your carpal tunnel. I am personally a fan of the Logitech MX. I have an old version, but I’m sure the new one is awesome too.

 

Dominic

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I just finished doing some rather extensive research on this. What are your requirements?

I looked at some basic options from Logitech and Microsoft. I also looked at more extreme options like EgrodoxEZ and some ortholinear ones. I even looked at a simple crooked Bluetooth foldable one for easy travel. I ended up going with the Dygma Raise. They’re building them now and shipping shortly. So, I can’t speak to experience with it, but I can imagine it will be wonderful.

  • Learning curve
  • Portable
  • Size
  • Easy software
  • Customizable
  • Inexpensive compared to some
  • Allows my arms/wrists to be straight

  • A tweet about Dygma

Looks nice! I'm not a gamer (not anymore), but anyway. I would like to have a portable one. You have written 'portable' in your description. I was not sure about that from the website. You think it's easy to transport? I'm working a lot in coffee shops and it would be cool to take it with me.

 

VickiLanger

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Looks nice! I'm not a gamer (not anymore), but anyway. I would like to have a portable one. You have written 'portable' in your description. I was not sure about that from the website. You think it's easy to transport? I'm working a lot in coffee shops and it would be cool to take it with me.

it clicks together to make a regular keyboard and comes with a carrying case. It might not be the most portable thing, but for the benefits I think it will be pretty good. It’s also pretty light, according to the site.
I don’t game either, but ergonomics is utmost priority to me. The lights are neat, but I’d be happy for them to do a cheaper version with less gaming stuff.

 

Dominic

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I don't need the lights either (and don't like them a lot) and would prefer spending less money without them.

 

VickiLanger

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I don't need the lights either (and don't like them a lot) and would prefer spending less money without them.
Totally agree, I won’t use them. Oh well, that’s what I get for refusing to wait until they come out with another version.

 

sfcgeorge

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I went from thinking mechanical / ergonomic keyboards were stupid, to being a bit obsessed.

  • They can be (and often are) silly hobbyist things with lots of LEDs.
  • They can also be nicer to type on and better for your health.

A few factors, many which get conflated:

Switches

The switch clearly makes a lot of difference; firmer / softer, more / less travel, clicky / smooth. For ergonomics a linear switch with low force is best to not stress your fingers, adding rubber o-rings to stop the plastic-on-plastic shock to your fingers if you press a key hard helps too. For typing pleasure a clicky high force switch feels great. It's an unfortunate battle. It's one reason I have both; Some Matias clicky in my Atreus and some Cherry-style "Speed Silver" linears in my Ergodox.

Matias

Matias ALPS style switches are very good. They are satisfying and don't feel cheap. The clicky ones have a "real" click — they click is made by the metal electrical contact, it's not faked. 80s computers used to use a variant of this switch, that's tech cred. But you can't get them in many keyboards (Atreus is one) and you can't get many keycaps either (just this supplier that I know of actually).

Cherry

Too many variants to get into, there are many guides online. Almost all keycaps are for Cherry mount. But I'll mention broad categories.

Clicky (blue). This is a faked click unlike Matias as a plastic slider is used for the click that slams into the bottom of the switch and makes a cheap high pitch sound. It feels reasonably nice but I hate the sound. These are very popular ;)

Tactile (brown). Again a somewhat fake tactility made by a plastic bump on the stem, but it's quiet (relatively). They feel a bit scratchy due to this plastic on plastic tactility. Honestly disappointing. These are the most popular.

Linear. Nothing fake, nice and smooth. Not very satisfying but the most "ergonomic" as there's no extra force required to get over the bump; you won't wear out your fingers as much.

Topre

You're unlikely to get these, I've never tried them, but they sound amazing and apparently feel amazing too. They're kind of a mix of things which results in a perfect blend... maybe.

Keycaps

You might not expect the keycap (plastic bit with letter on) to make much difference but I found it really can. There are way too many to explain and your keyboard will probably have an option to come with them. But broadly:

Sculpted

Think traditional PC keyboard where each row has a slightly different angle. If you're used to it and like it then stick with it. I'm not and don't.

"Flat"

These may not be flat like laptop keycaps but each row has the same profile. I use a laptop too and find switching between the two easier than with sculpted. I like "DSA", or XDA is flatter (I have some but prefer DSA), or G20 is very flat (haven't tried).

Ergonomic

Ortholinear

Look at a regular keyboard. Now look at a typewriter. Same layout; rows are staggered weirdly to prevent typewriter hammers from hitting each other and keyboards kept the tradition. Fingers move back and forth much easier than side to side so staggered keyboards suck. My #1 recommendation would be go ortholinear (rows line up), there are many but Plank is popular (note no number row, it's on a function layer) or Preonic (has a number row).

Angled

Most keyboards have feet at the back that tilt it up at an angle. I am one of the few people to disagree with this so pinch of salt. Hold out your hands. They're straight or flop down a bit. They certainly don't naturally bend back. Typing on an angled toward you keyboard means your tendons have to go round a (slight) bend causing friction and wear and possible health issues. I have no idea why keyboards are all made like this except maybe so you can read the keys better. Keep it flat and use a thick wrist rest so your hands are straight or bending down a bit.

Split

Hold out your arms. They're probably a shoulder's width apart (guess why). But keyboards are narrow (not counting number pad) which causes your arms to come together, which makes your shoulder blades stick out, which stresses your trapezius muscles, which gives me neck pain. Split keyboards let you put the halves a shoulder's width apart, or whatever is comfortable for you. Ergodox is most popular (many varieties and offshoots), I think it's a bit big and has way too many keys (see next sentence) but you can program the layout however you like. I count Atreus in this category as a portable compact version, it's not actually split but there's still a little gap — I have one and absolutely love it, I use it full time at work (but note you'll have to adapt to a very condensed layout and program it to suit your needs).

Tented

Hold out your hands again. They're probably not perfectly flat to the floor but a bit angled — as if you placed your hand on a very low tent. So if you get a split keyboard you can "tent" it so your hands rest like that on it. Or all-in-one ergo keyboards often have a hump that serves the same purpose. The most beautiful by far (and I say that as a Mac user) is Microsoft's Surface Ergonomic Keyboard but they make many other popular ones too (but none are ortholinear). Matias makes a few using their wonderful switches (but also not ortho). Kinesis makes a well known one that looks pretty cool (and is ortho).

 

VickiLanger

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@sfcgeorge I think (and I’m a little scare) that you’ve probably sparked an obsession for me. I might need to get yet another keyboard. Thanks for the awesome post, it was incredibly helpful. I hadn’t really understood why ortholinear was worth trying, even though it’s in it’s name.

I may need to check out this Atreus. Are your wrists generally straight when using it?

Where do you find these flat key caps?

 

sfcgeorge

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Yeah, even though the Atreus halves are close together, they're angled so that your wrists don't get kinked. There's an Atreus 2 coming out as well 👀


Apart from ergonomics I actually find it much easier typing on either of my orthos. I can go back to my laptop keyboard but it doesn't feel as easy in comparison.

 
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